Ele’s Place is a nonprofit community-based organization in Ann Arbor dedicated to creating awareness and support for grieving children and their families. One in 20 children will experience the death of a parent before they graduate from high school, while many more will experience the death of a sibling, grandparent, friend, or other significant person. The teen years can be an especially difficult time to deal with a loss as young people struggle with the desire for independence and the need for support from parents and family.
Unresolved grief is linked to depression, eating and sleeping disorders, truancy, substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. Ele’s Place helps prevent these consequences by providing important support services to help grieving teens learn to cope with their feelings and the tremendous changes they are experiencing as a result of loss. Teens whom have attended Ele’s Place for support regularly comment how helpful it is to meet others who have also experienced a significant loss. Peer support helps teens learn that there is no “right” or “normal” way to grieve and builds a positive support network.
Support comes in many forms:
Grief support groups for children and teens ages 3-18 that focus on peer support and age-appropriate activities (art, music, movement, books, etc.) that help teens share about their loss and gain helpful coping skills. The groups are free and meet weekly.
- Professional consultation to families, community members and professionals in the community regarding grief.
- Presentations at schools, agencies and community groups. All services are provided at no cost.
How to cope?
Peggy E. Galimberti, program director at Ele’s Place, gave Ann Arbor Family Press helpful suggestions for teens going through the grieving process. “It is important to recognize that everyone’s grief journey is unique. Sadness and crying may be a helpful expression of grief for one teen, while another may respond with humor and laughter. Teens grieve for different lengths of time and express a wide spectrum of emotions,” she explained.
Practical ideas to help teens cope with grief:
- Help them identify their feelings and find safe ways to express them (talking, writing, drawing).
- Listen to music.
- Do something physical (go for a walk, work out, punch a pillow).
- Get plenty of rest because grief is hard work!
- Spend time with family and friends. Let them know what you need and how they can help.
“At Ele’s Place, we have learned that teens respond best to adults who choose to be companions on the grief journey rather than direct it. Adults need to be aware of their own grief issues because their experiences and beliefs impact the way they relate to teens. We have found that inviting questions and being open to listening (without blame or judgment) helps a lot,” Galimberti said. Grief is a lifelong journey, and the goal of Ele’s Place is to help people integrate and learn to live with the loss.
Families seeking support should contact
Ele’s Place directly at (734) 929-6640 or